September 13, 2022
Why Should Home Builders Care About On-Page SEO?
Rank higher in the search engines, white hat methods, be found by Google. You’ve seen all the hype and spammy emails. But the question remains what is search engine optimization (SEO), and do developers and home builders need it? And what, exactly, do SEO specialists do?
This two-part series sheds some light on SEO basics and helps you speak the lingo. Part one dives into on-page SEO – the things that happen on your website. And part two covers off-page SEO – tactics that help home builder and developer websites rank higher but happen in other online places.
SEO is part science and part art. Because it happens “behind the scenes,” it gets a bad rap, and unfortunately, it is one place where bad actors can easily prey on home builders and developers. So, why is SEO so important for home builders?
What is SEO?
According to Google, SEO helps search engines to understand and present content. An SEO specialist makes changes to a website – some small and some more significant – that impact user experience on the site and how the website performs in organic search. (For those unfamiliar with the term organic search, this is when a person knows what they are looking for but not necessarily from whom they will buy. So instead of searching for a builder website or the name of a development, they search for homes in Marietta, Georgia or something more generic.)
Managing Website and Blog Content
Website content needs to be written for humans to read but clear to the search engines what it is about. Website copy should be original and unique to the home building or development company. What does your potential buyer want to read on your site, and where do they expect to find it? Tell your story on each page. Think of web copy as an extension of the brand. There is constant debate on how many words must be on a website page. Experts range from 300 to 700 words. It needs to be enough content for Google or another search engine to crawl and understand the topic on that page. This is especially important with the increase in video, 3D tours and other interactive elements on sites, as none of these can be scanned and read by Google. A blog strategy involving sound SEO tactics is one of the easiest ways to boost search engine rankings.
Implement SEO-friendly URLs
SEO-friendly URLs tend to be short and keyword-rich, thus meeting the needs of website users and search engines. (And URL stands for uniform resource locator, and it’s the address of a unique resource on the web.) An example of an SEO-friendly URL is our recent Realtor Relations blog, https://blog.milesbrand.com/blog/realtor-relations-show-them-some-love. Anyone reading this URL will immediately understand the subject of this blog and that it is a blog!
Keywords and Synonyms
Keywords help search engines to understand your website content. A well-written site that is on brand likely contains keywords effortlessly. Including keywords and their synonyms in website copy helps the site to rank higher for those words – if they occur naturally and aren’t stuffed into the document. In a typical SEO partnership, the SEO team and the client will brainstorm a list of keywords. This includes everything a potential home buyer might think of to search to find your communities or master planned development – product type, location, amenities, price point, etc. Once this list of keywords is created, the SEO specialist determines which words are best for the site based on search volume and competition. Then the content is tweaked or written to include the keywords. This is an art because the content must read like it’s written for a person to read but must also inform the search engines of the page’s content.
Yes, Title Tags Matter
Website title tags are essential as they give search engines and website users an understanding of that particular web page. The title tag is the visible headline that a user clicks from a search engine results page to navigate to a site.
Are Meta Description Tags Still Important?
Yes, Meta tags are essential for a few reasons. The main reason is that Google often uses these snippets of information in search results to describe the page. Including keywords can help with ranking, but only if those keywords actually appear on the page. The meta tag or meta description informs the web searcher of the page’s content. These meta tags pull through when a URL is posted to a social media site. This description is the virtual handshake or first introduction to a potential buyer, so make it count.
Image Alt Tags and Web Accessibility
Alt tags or alt text is the content that describes images on the website. Remember, Google and other search engines read code and text; they can’t interpret a photo or a video. This means every PDF, jpg, png, video, 3D tour or other images on the website needs an alt tag that says what it is. This is crucial for web accessibility and compliance with the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA).
Other SEO Tools
Websites need a Sitemap to give information about the pages and files on the site and how they relate to one another. Think of this as the index to the website. It helps search engines and potential home buyers to find what they need on the site. Another excellent SEO tool is Google Search Central, also called Google Search Console and formerly known as Google Webmaster tools. This is a free tool that helps troubleshoot websites in Google search results. It is a fantastic resource for website improvement.
This blog is just the tip of the iceberg regarding on-page SEO. Hopefully, it provides a basis for conversations on SEO with your marketing agency and SEO specialist.
Blogging and SEO are must-have digital marketing strategies. Milesbrand is prepared to help you create an effective home builder digital marketing strategy! Reach out to our team to learn more about how we can develop robust marketing strategies and set your real estate brand up for success.